NATIONAL NEWS

Carlee Russell returns home after search, but no word from Alabama police on where she’d been

Jul 17, 2023, 11:15 AM | Updated: 12:06 pm

HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — A 25-year-old woman who vanished from the side of an Alabama interstate after calling 911 to report seeing a toddler there is now home safe, but police have not released details about what happened to her or where she was during their two-day search.

Here’s what we know about the case:

THE MISSING WOMAN:

Carlethia “Carlee” Nichole Russell of Hoover, Alabama, called 911 Thursday night and reported that she was stopping along an interstate to check on a toddler she saw there, police said. Mother Talitha Russell told AL.com that the nursing student, who worked part time at a spa, was on the phone with her brother’s girlfriend, who didn’t hear a child but did hear Carlee Russell scream.

TIMELINE OF HER DISAPPEARANCE:

An update from police Monday provided some details that fill out some of the timeline:

Thursday

8:20 p.m. — Russell leaves work at The Summit in Birmingham and travels to The Colonnade to pick up food she ordered. Police haven’t located anyone with Russell between the time she left The Colonnade until she called 911, but she spoke to people she knew on her cellphone.

9:34 p.m. — Russell calls 911, reports seeing a toddler in a diaper on the side of Interstate 459 and says she is stopping to check on him.

After 9:36 p.m. — When Russell’s 911 call ends, she calls a relative and goes missing during that conversation.

Within five minutes of being dispatched, Hoover police officers arrive and find Russell’s wig, cellphone and purse with her Apple Watch inside on the road near her vehicle.

Saturday

10:44 p.m. — A 911 caller reports that Russell has returned home on foot. Russell is taken to a hospital to be evaluated, and she is treated and released. Detectives go to Russell’s home and the hospital to take a statement from her.

THE INVESTIGATION:

Russell’s 911 call was the only timely report of a child on the interstate, police said Monday.

Previously, police said a witness reported possibly seeing a gray vehicle with a male standing outside of Russell’s vehicle, but Monday’s release did not mention that report.

Traffic camera footage that shows part of the incident is being analyzed with the 911 call to determine the timeframe, police said.

Details from Russell’s initial statement to detectives is part of the investigation, which is expected to continue over the next few days, police said. Detectives retraced Russell’s steps to the point when she went missing and they’re confident that will continue to be the case, police said.

Police didn’t share any information on Monday about where Russell was during the two-day search, noting that the update contained all the information they can currently release.

“We rejoice with the Russell family as they continue to rest and recover from this situation and ask for their wishes to be respected regarding their privacy,” police said.

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Carlee Russell returns home after search, but no word from Alabama police on where she’d been